Monday, July 31, 2017

FairMormon Conference preparation #3 - arsonists

FairMormon's conference is this week: https://www.fairmormon.org/conference/august-2017.
This post is part 3 of a series to help you prepare.

As a review of my position, I applaud FairMormon's objective of answering questions about Church-related topics. They do a good job on many issues.

However, I deplore their editorial stance of promoting exclusively the Mesoamerican and two-Cumorahs theories. FairMormon and the rest of the Conclave* want people (both LDS and non-LDS) to believe that Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith were ignorant speculators who misled the Church about Cumorah being in New York.

They don't even want LDS members to know about alternative perspectives on Book of Mormon geography. They reject Letter VII and the other historical evidence that supports what Joseph and Oliver said. They not only cast doubt on the reliability and credibility of Joseph and Oliver, but they want people to disbelieve David Whitmer, Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, and others.

All because they are psychologically wedded to the Mesoamerican and two-Cumorahs theory.

I think the approach FairMormon takes is a major contributor to people questioning and leaving the Church. There are lots of leaders in the Church who are trying to put out fires, but they still don't realize who the arsonists are.
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Some time ago I posted this graphic that depicts the issues that former Mormons say led them to leave the Church. Here's the post: http://bookofmormonwars.blogspot.com/2017/05/perspectives-inside-and-outside.html



Notice four of the big issues (I can't address all 17 issues in this brief post, but I am doing so in a book to come out this fall). Because of what they teach about Letter VII and related Book of Mormon issues, FairMormon and the rest of the Conclave aggravate all four of the problems cited by former Mormons. In my experience, these 4 issues are pretty common among inactive LDS, former LDS, and investigators.

1. Book of Mormon not ancient.
2. Church lies about its history.
3. Poor apologetics backfire.
4. 19th century teachings have been silently abandoned.

Think of this from the perspective of an active, but curious, LDS youth. Or an active, but curious, LDS senior. Or an investigator. Or a missionary.

If you read LDS literature, you are inundated with Mesomania. Even the official edition of the Book of Mormon contains illustrations putting the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica. You find the two-Cumorahs theory being explicitly taught on Temple Square.

Every one of these depictions is teaching that Joseph and Oliver were ignorant speculators who misled the Church because they stated it was a fact that Cumorah was in New York. 

Joseph and Oliver unequivocally declared that Mormon's depository was in the same hill in New York where Joseph found the plates in Moroni's stone box. Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff and others backed this up. It has been taught in General Conference several times.

But the Conclave, including FairMormon, wants you to believe all the modern prophets and apostles who have spoken about Cumorah in New York were wrong.

That's why the Conclave suppresses Letter VII and related incidents of Church history. Their Mesoamerican and two-Cumorahs theories directly feed the four narratives listed above.

By contrast, if we accept and reaffirm the teachings of Letter VII and related historical events, we show that these four objections are misplaced. We are embracing Church history, not lying about it or silently abandoning it. We don't have to resort to backfiring apologetics by claiming that Joseph mistranslated the Book of Mormon by dictating "horse" instead of "tapir" and by forgetting to mention volcanoes, jungles, massive stone pyramids, and Mayans themselves. And we can see how the Book of Mormon text fits nicely in the historical context of the setting where Joseph and Oliver placed it.

Watch for these things if you attend or view the FairMormon conference.

Especially pay attention to the video-game map of the Book of Mormon that all BYU students are expected to learn now.
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* The term "Conclave" refers to the LDS scholarly publications that promote the two-Cumorahs and Mesoamerican theories exclusively. This includes BYU Studies, Book of Mormon Central, BMAF.org, the Interpreter, Meridian Magazine, the Maxwell Institute, and other publications that cite these on the question of Book of Mormon geography and historicity. I used to use the term "citation cartel" but Conclave is a better shorthand name for this group of Mesomania-thinking publications. They have called themselves the Conclave, here and here, so I assume that term is acceptable. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

FairMormon conference preparation #2 - Cumorah

Regarding the Book of Mormon, the FairMormon conference focuses exclusively on the Mesoamerican and two-Cumorahs theories. They refuse to allow speakers who support alternatives, which is why you'll never learn about Letter VII, the two sets of plates, or other historical facts and scenarios that contradict the Mesoamerican and two-Cumorahs theories.

Just to be clear, once again, on a personal level I respect and like every presenter that I've met, and I'm sure I'd feel the same about those I haven't yet had a chance to meet. My objections to their methodology and ideology are substantive, not personal in any way.

If you go, you will enjoy meeting the presenters. But you will also be shocked and dismayed at their approach to the Book of Mormon. Every presenter I know will teach that Joseph and Oliver were ignorant speculators who misled the Church about the Hill Cumorah being in New York. You'll hear about the Mesoamerican setting and the "real Cumorah" being in Mexico.

Or, worse, you'l learn about the imaginary "abstract" map of Book of Mormon lands currently being taught at BYU, which shows Cumorah not in New York, but in an imaginary land that resembles a video game or fantasy novel.

If you go, you should ask as many people as you can what they think about Cumorah. And ask why they would teach BYU students that the Book of Mormon took place in a fantasy world.
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As we've seen, the two-Cumorahs theory was developed as a response to the notion that the "real Cumorah" could not be in New York because so many people were killed at that site.

Over at my Letter VII blog, I posted an analysis of the numbers of people who died during the final battles at Cumorah. Here's the link: http://www.lettervii.com/2017/07/more-about-cumorahs-casualties.html

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

FairMormon conference preparation #1 - prediction about teachings

FairMormon is having their annual conference on August 3-4. It will be held in Provo. I have a conflict so I can't attend. Plus, they somehow forgot to invite me to speak.

:)

I encourage people to attend their conference, or watch it over the Internet, so you can see for yourselves that I'm not making anything up regarding their teachings. You might find it a bit pricey--a one-day pass is $30.95 without lunch, or $42.95 with lunch, but for "S&I" it is only $10 for both days because they desperately want to maintain Mesomania as long as possible, and the best way to do that is through S&I.

Look at their agenda, on this page: https://www.fairmormon.org/conference/august-2017

I predict that they will teach the following:

1. The Church approves of Darwinian evolution
2. The best way to understand the Book of Mormon is by using an abstract map that puts Cumorah into a mythical video-game setting.
3. Cumorah cannot be in New York.
4. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were ignorant speculators who misled the Church about Cumorah being in New York.
5. Mesoamerican history is basically Book of Mormon history because of all the correspondences between Mesoamerica and what the text would have said had Joseph translated it correctly.

At the end of the conference, I'll review these predictions. Hopefully, my predictions will have turned out wrong.

But I doubt it.
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In this preparation post, I'll point out why you should never refer people to FairMormon when they encounter anti-Mormon propaganda.

In this case, FairMormon responds to questions posed by "The Interactive Bible."

Response to "Difficult Questions for Mormons: Book of Mormon Geography"


Here's the link.

FairMormon purports do to "fact checking" that results in this typical conclusion:

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS PROPAGANDA AND/OR SPIN - THE AUTHOR, OR THE AUTHOR'S SOURCE, IS PROVIDING INFORMATION OR IDEAS IN A SLANTED WAY IN ORDER TO INSTILL A PARTICULAR ATTITUDE OR RESPONSE IN THE READER


Think about that in the context of FairMormon's overall editorial approach. Then read their response to questions about Cumorah on this web page and see for yourselves how they carefully avoid the most important parts of Letter VII and related material in their futile effort to preserve their Mesoamerican and two-Cumorahs theory.

FairMormon goes so far as to quote from one part of Letter VII to support the idea that Oliver supported a hemispheric model, without even mentioning what Oliver said about Cumorah!

In my view, the anti-Mormon writers are far more honest in their questions than FairMormon is with its answers. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Why BYU/LDS Mesoamerican advocates align with anti-Mormons about Cumorah

As I've pointed out before, BYU Studies, FairMormon and the rest continue to promote the Mesoamerican and two-Cumorahs theories. Right on their splash page, they have a link to "Charting the Book of Mormon," a document that strongly promotes Mesomania.

Look at their page on "Plausible Locations of the Final Battles" here.

https://byustudies.byu.edu/charts/13-159-plausible-locations-final-battles

They show a map of Mesoamerica and then explain it this way:

The hill Ramah/Cumorah, upon which both the Jaredites and Nephites fought their last battles (see Ether 15:11; Mormon 6:4–6), is shown here on the northwestern edge of the Tuxtla Mountains in Mexico, about ninety miles from a narrow pass (see Mormon 3:5). Other Jaredite locations, including Omer's flight to Ramah (see Ether 9:3), are also shown here. Again, these locations are plausible, but not definite.
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What is not included on their list of "plausible locations of the final battles" is the place where Joseph and Oliver said it actually took place; i.e., the hill Cumorah in New York.

This is one of many examples of how BYU Studies continues to teach that Joseph and Oliver were ignorant speculators who misled the Church about the Hill Cumorah.
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This Mesomania has significant implications. BYU Studies offers a comparison of "The Two Final Battles" involving the Jaredites and the Nephites, here: https://byustudies.byu.edu/charts/11-138-two-final-battles



Notice the row titled "how many." They want people to believe that 2 million Jaredites were killed at Cumorah and "around" 230,000 Nephites.

This is the same theory that FairMormon wants people to accept. Here, for example, FairMormon claims the Hill Cumorah must be "large enough to view hundreds of thousands of bodies."

These are exactly the same claims made by anti-Mormons to undermine faith in the Book of Mormon. 

And Oliver Cowdery addressed these false claims way back in 1835.

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Oliver explained that Mormon foresaw the approaching destruction and its parallel to the Jaredite destruction in the same place. Speaking from Mormon's perspective, and after describing the mile-wide valley west of the Hill Cumorah, Oliver wrote:

"In this vale lie commingled, in one mass of ruin the ashes of thousands, and in this vale was destined to consume the fair forms and vigerous systems of tens of thousands of the human race—blood mixed with blood, flesh with flesh, bones with bones and dust with dust!"

Oliver described the remains of the Jaredites as "the ashes of thousands." Not millions, but thousands. Not even tens of thousands. Just thousands.

When we read the Book of Mormon carefully, we recognize that Oliver was correct. The 8-day Jaredite battle at Cumorah could not have involved more than a few thousand, as we see from the count of the actual number killed on the last two days. Coriantumr realized that two million of his people had been killed long before they reached Ramah, or Cumorah. (Ether 13) There were additional battles leading up to Cumorah. Even after four years, they could gather only a relatively few people to Cumorah, so few that after six days of battle, there were only 121 people left. The next day, there were only 59 left. Even if we assume that half the people were killed each day, that calculates to about 7,744 on the first day of battle.

Hence, Oliver wrote that there were the "ashes of thousands," not even tens of thousands.

Same with the Nephites.

Oliver says "tens of thousands" were to be killed, including Lamanites and Nephites. 

Mormon said he could see 20,000 from the top of Cumorah. (Mormon 6:11-12). The rest of his people, the ones Mormon lists in verses 13-15, had died long before the final battle at Cumorah. Mormon and Moroni could not see those dead people from Cumorah. Let's say an equivalent number of Lamanites were killed. That totals 40,000. This fits the "tens of thousands" Oliver mentioned.

You can read this right out of Joseph Smith's own history, titled History, 1834-1836, which is found in the Joseph Smith Papers here: http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-1834-1836/83. The portion I quoted is from this page: http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-1834-1836/92

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There are two important keys here.

First key: Mesoamerican advocates and anti-Mormons make the same claims, albeit for different reasons.

Estimates based on the text and what Oliver and Joseph said:

Jaredites: under 10,000
Nephites and Lamanites: tens of thousands.

Estimates based on the claims of Mesoamerican advocates and anti-Mormons:

Jaredites: 2 million
Nephites and Lamanites: hundreds of thousands.

The anti-Mormons like the large numbers because there are no known locations anywhere in the Western Hemisphere where there is evidence of hundreds of thousands of people being killed at a single site, let alone 2 million.

The Mesoamerican advocates like the large numbers because they think this excludes the New York hill as a "plausible" candidate for Cumorah, which is one of the foundations of their "two-Cumorahs" theory. They think Cumorah must be a huge volcanic mountain somewhere in Mexico, large enough to accommodate these large numbers of people.

Second key: what evidence should we expect to find at Cumorah? 

Our assumptions make a big difference. The smaller numbers would lead us to conclude that the New York hill fits just fine; i.e., we don't need a massive mountain somewhere upon which 2 million people could fight and die. We don't even need a place where hundreds of thousands of people could fight and die. And we wouldn't expect to find evidence of such mass destruction.

What we do have in western New York is a series of small forts and defensive positions, mass graves containing hundreds, but not thousands, of bodies, and in the vicinity of the hill Cumorah itself, decades of farmers plowing up arrowheads, ax heads, and similar stone weapons which they gave away or sold to tourists. Just a few years ago a Jaredite era arrowhead was found on top of the Hill Cumorah, not far from the parking area. All of this is consistent with the tens of thousands of people killed, but not the hundreds of thousands claimed by anti-Mormons and Mesoamerican two-Cumorahs advocates.

By comparison, consider the famous Battle of Hastings, which was relatively recent (1066). The battle changed the course of British history. 10,000 men were said to have died there, in a specific spot of England that was well documented and known ever since. They found one skeleton that might be related to the battle, as explained here. The article says, "No bones have previously been discovered of anyone who fought and died during the historic event.... The Norman invaders were thought to have buried their dead in a mass grave. Although no grave pits of the Normans have been found, it is believed that this is due to the high acidity of the soil, which means all the remains have long deteriorated."

There are ongoing debates about even the location of the battle. E.g., here and here.



Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Noel Reynolds and authorship

LDS Living published an article about Noel Reynolds and his article that explains Joseph Smith did not write the Lectures on Faith. You can see it here: http://www.ldsliving.com/Former-BYU-Professor-Shares-Evidence-the-Lectures-on-Faith-Were-Not-Written-by-Joseph-Smith/s/85893

I agree with Reynolds' assessment. I've always liked his work.

Here's a key passage from the LDS Living article:

Reynolds says there's evidence to suggest that [Sidney] Rigdon was the book's author. 
For instance, Reynolds's asserts there is no proof Joseph Smith ever even looked at the lectures, the only statement that he did so was made by a secretary trying to fill 18 months worth of missing daily records from Joseph Smith's life, with no first-hand accounts of Joseph Smith actually looking at the lectures or writing them. 

"The second thing we can look at is did Joseph use the lectures, did he claim them, did he quote them, did he teach from them, did he ever repeat these teachings? The answer to that is no, not once," Reynolds says. 

Though the author for Lectures on Faith remains to be known on the book cover as Joseph Smith, Reynolds holds to the evidence he has brought forward that it may, in fact, be Rigdon. 
____________

This is fascinating for three reasons.

First, the methodology Brother Reynolds used--comparing the Lectures on Faith with the respective writings of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon--is the same methodology I used to figure out who wrote the anonymous articles in the 1842 Times and Seasons that were the origin for the Mesoamerican theory. That methodology led me to Benjamin Winchester, as I explained in my books The Lost City of Zarahemla, Brought to Light, and The Editors: Joseph, William and Don Carlos Smith.

Second, Brother Reynolds looked at Joseph's use of the lectures. His conclusion, which I bolded above, applies equally to the anonymous Mesoamerican articles. There is no proof Joseph Smith ever even looked at these articles (or the Stephens books they quoted), he never claimed them, he never quoted them, he never taught from them, and he never repeated them. In fact, not once did Joseph Smith ever link the Book of Mormon to any geography outside of North America.

Third, I'm informed that Brother Reynolds is a strong supporter of the Mesoamerican and two-Cumorahs theory. Maybe I'm wrong and I'd like to know if I am.

This is especially ironic because the exact same misattribution that took place with the Lectures on Faith also took place with the Mesoamerican articles upon which the Mesomania scholars and educators rely.

If Brother Reynolds and other Mesomania scholars and educators applied the same methodology to the Times and Seasons as they applied to the Lectures on Faith, no one would be promoting the two-Cumorahs and Mesoamerican theories any more.






Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Mormon's repository in Cumorah explained in Letter VII

I posted must-see comments on Mormon's repository here:

http://www.lettervii.com/2017/07/mormons-repository-in-cumorah-explained.html

Columbus reconsidered

The Columbus narrative articulated by FairMormon and others claims Nephi was referring to Columbus when he wrote what is now 1 Nephi 13. I think there are other possibilities, as I've discussed before, but here's another thing to consider.
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In 1 Nephi 18, Nephi describes his voyage across the sea and his arrival in the "promised land."

22 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did guide the ship, that we sailed again towards the promised land.

23 And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land.
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Now, compare this to how he describes "Columbus" in 1 Nephi 13:

12 And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.

13 And it came to pass that I beheld the Spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters.

IOW, both Nephi and the "man among the Gentiles" sailed to "the promised land."

What if they went to the same region?
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Here's a map showing Columbus' route of discovery. Nephi does not describe the "man among the Gentiles" making multiple voyages. He refers only to the first voyage that took him to "the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land." For that reason, I focus on the first voyage.

The green line in the map is Columbus first journey to the Americas. The pink line is his route home. The yellow line is the route of the Mulekites from Moroni's America. The orange line is Lehi's route from Moroni's America.


I think Lehi landed in Florida for all the reasons I've explained in Moroni's America. He may have sailed south of Cuba to get there because of ocean currents and wind, but it's interesting that Mulek, Lehi and Columbus converge on the same areas.

Of course, the first people Columbus encountered were from Florida (they had inhabited the Bahamas). So if you want to believe Columbus was the man identified by Nephi, then the first people he encountered were not from Mesoamerica or South America; they were from North America, not far from where Lehi originally landed (in Florida).

If you have Mesomania, you'll ignore Columbus' first voyage, the only one Nephi described, and instead focus on his later voyages where he sailed along the coast of Honduras. Then you'll say Honduras is "close enough" to Guatemala and southern Mexico.

You'll also claim that although Lehi landed on the west coast of Central America (or Chile, or Baja, or Panama), and Columbus sailed by the east coast, they both went to the same promised land.

For me, Nephi's description makes far more sense if Lehi, Mulek, and Columbus converged on the same basic place in the Caribbean. I even think Nephi's vision of "Columbus," which he had before they left the old world, helped him recognize the promised land once he arrived there.

But that's just me.

:)

Monday, July 17, 2017

The official position of the Church - part 3 (FairMormon and Letter VII)

I have to preface this by clarifying that I don't like being the bearer of bad news. I think there's a serious need for a website such as FairMormon that would be truly honest and open (and neutral about Book of Mormon geography). But as I'll show here, FairMormon is anything but that.

It's unbelievable to me that a web site that has spent so much time and effort to explain Church-related issues would continue to promote the idea that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were ignorant speculators who misled the Church about something so basic as the New York Cumorah.

It's a shame, really, but it is what it is.

If you go to FairMormon and search for "Letter VII" you get 11 hits, none of which quote from Letter VII except for

1. the Messenger and Advocate page that reproduces the entire newspaper and

2. the passage and commentary in the section below, which is quoted in two of their web pages:
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Oliver Cowdery (Jul 1835): "A history of the inhabitants who peopled this continent, previous to its being discovered to Europeans by Columbus"

Oliver Cowdery to W.W. Phelps in Messenger and Advocate
A history of the inhabitants who peopled this continent, previous to its being discovered to Europeans by Columbus, must be interesting to every man; and as it would develope the important fact, that the present race were descendants of Abraham....[1]
Note that "this continent" refers to both North and South America; Columbus never set foot in the present day United States; he was confined to the CaribbeanSouth America, and Central America.(Click here for maps of Columbus' voyages.)

Notes


  1. Jump up Oliver Cowdery to W. W. Phelps, "Letter VII," (July 1835) Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate 1:155-159. off-site

https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Source:Oliver_Cowdery:Jul_1835:A_history_of_the_inhabitants_who_peopled_this_continent,_previous_to_its_being_discovered_to_Europeans_by_Columbus
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This is fascinating for several reasons.

1. It shows that FairMormon can quote from Letter VII but chooses not to whenever Oliver and Joseph disagree with FairMormon's editorial Mesomania. On the very next page from this quotation about Columbus, Letter VII explains that it was a fact that between the Hill Cumorah and the ridge a mile to the west, "the entire power and national strength of both the Jaredites and Nephites were destroyed." That passage and the rest of Letter VII FairMormon does not want anyone to see because it repudiates their "two-Cumorahs" and Mesoamerican theories.

2. On the merits, FairMormon uses ellipses to take this excerpt out of context. In Letter VII, this Columbus sentence is part of a series of paragraphs that describe the temptations Joseph felt when he was walking to the hill Cumorah for the first time. The paragraph continues that these ideas running through Joseph's mind "seemed to inspire further thoughts of gain and income from such a valuable history. Surely, thought he, every man will seize with eagerness, this knowledge, and this incalculable income will be mine." These were Joseph's thoughts before he even saw the plates for the first time. However, FairMormon quotes it here as authority for the idea that Oliver was teaching what the Book of Mormon taught.

3. Further on the merits, notice what Oliver says Moroni actually taught Joseph: "He then proceeded and gave a general account of the promises  made to the fathers, and also gave a history of the aborigines of this country, and said they were literal descendants of Abraham." This was in Letter IV, a passage FairMormon never quotes. Oliver uses the term "country" consistently throughout these letters to mean (i) the United States or (ii) a smaller local area or region. E.g., he wrote that the Priesthood "has been held in reserve to the  present century, as a matter of right, in this free country." Referring to Cumorah, Oliver writes, "Why I say large, is, because it is as  large perhaps, as any in that country... The soil  is of the first quality for the country." We have Oliver referring to both a region and a nation as a "country," but neither of these mean an entire continent, let alone a hemisphere. Twice Oliver refers to continent (Savior's ministry and the twelve) but of course an event occurring on a small parcel of land takes place in a country (region), a nation (U.S.) and a continent, all at once. It's the difference between specific and general. When you specify the "country" you're not specifying the continent, but when you specify the continent, you necessarily include all the countries and regions located on that continent.

IOW, Moroni told Joseph that the record gave a history of the "aborigines of this country," meaning those who lived in the immediate area around Palmyra or in the "free country" of the United States, but when he was heading for the hill for the first time, Joseph was thinking how he could obtain "incalculable income" from a history of the "inhabitants who peopled this continent."

4. As long as FairMormon considers Oliver as an authority about the contents of the Book of Mormon, note that Oliver continues in Letter IV with this: "He said this history was written and deposited not  far from that place [i.e., Joseph's home]." Obviously, if the history was written near Joseph's home in New York, it wasn't written in Mesoamerica. FairMormon never quotes this sentence, either.

5. As for Columbus, when he "discovered" the "continent" on his first voyage, the first land he sighted was the island of San Salvador, now part of the Bahamas. He continued to Long Island, about 350 miles from the coast of Florida, before continuing to Cuba and Hispaniola. The Bahamas, which became a British colony like the 13 colonies that became the United States, fell to the Spanish during the Revolutionary war. In 1762, the British seized Cuba but traded it back to Spain in return for Florida.

Ironically, Florida is the most likely landing site of Lehi. Columbus came much closer to Florida (350 miles)  than to Central America (1,200+ to Guatemala or 1,400+ to Mexico). Neither Columbus nor Lehi ever visited Guatemala or Mexico. Not that this matters anyway--the Vikings "discovered" America long before Columbus, and the Lamanites living in New York at the time when Columbus "discovered the continent to the Europeans" were still inhabitants who peopled this continent.

Now, compare a real map of Columbus' route to the one FairMormon links to here: https://pool.fairmormon.org/images/8/80/Columbus1.PNG. FairMormon goes so far as to cut off the part of the map showing Columbus' first (and most northern) landing! You can't make this stuff up.

6. This out-of-context quotation, combined with the omission of much more specific and relevant quotations, shows that FairMormon's purported "neutral" position is a sham designed to mislead readers. Here's their statement: "Summary: The geographical setting of the Book of Mormon has been the subject of serious study and casual speculation since before the book was first published. The Church has been neutral when it comes to issues relating to Book of Mormon geography, as is FairMormon."
https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Topical_Guide/Book_of_Mormon/Geography

Except, as I've showed here, FairMormon is anything but neutral.
__________________

I'll leave it to readers to explore the other uses of Letter VII by FairMormon. My favorite is here:
https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Question:_Where_is_the_Hill_Cumorah%3F

I've gone through this one before. It's my favorite because of the out-of-context quotation from Letter VII discussed above, the omission of any of the relevant passages from Letter VII as mentioned above, and this line, which is an all-time classic:

"Despite this early "identification" of the Hill Cumorah of the Book of Mormon with the hill in New York, readers who studied the text closely would later conclude that they could not be the same."

Can you believe that one?

"Readers who studied the text closely," meaning if you believe Cumorah is in New York, you haven't studied the text closely. I.e., Joseph and Oliver didn't study the text closely.

They just translated it. Oliver wrote most of the entire text by hand, twice. He and Joseph visited Mormon's repository in the New York hill. They communed with angels, handled the plates, etc.

But because they forgot to "study the text closely" the way our modern Mesomania LDS scholars and educators have, Joseph and Oliver misled the Church and all their contemporaries. If not for our modern Mesomania  LDS scholars and educators, we'd still be walking in the dark, thanks to Joseph and Oliver.

Or, as I believe, it's the other way around. Joseph and Oliver were specific, declarative, and unequivocal because they knew, from personal experience, that the repository was in the New York hill. Meanwhile, our Mesomania LDS scholars and educators are trying to confuse people and characterize Joseph and Oliver as ignorant speculators who misled the Church.

By now, readers of this blog also know all about the phony Mesomania "requirements" set up for Cumorah.

And this is how our Mesomania scholars present "the official position of the Church."

______________________

If anyone finds anything "neutral" about Book of Mormon geography on the FairMormon site, please send it to me ASAP. There's always a chance for an editorial change at FairMormon. A slim chance, but I'd like to know about it if and when it happens.

As always, I'm eager to correct any errors on this or any other posts the moment anyone brings them to my attention.





Sunday, July 16, 2017

the deleware Nation of Lamanites

Oliver Cowdery wrote a letter dated April 8, 1831, from Jackson County, Missouri, to the Saints in Kirtland. He described some of the events of the mission to the Lamanites.

I think everyone agrees that "early" members of the Church believed the American Indians in the U.S. and its territories were Lamanites. Here, Oliver refers to the Delaware Indians as the "deleware Nation of Lamanites."

That fits pretty well with what the Lord said in D&C 28, 30 and 32.
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Here is a short history of the Delaware nation:

The historically Algonquian-speaking Delaware refer to themselves as Lenni Lenape. At contact, in the early 17th century, the tribe lived along the Delaware River, named for Lord de la Warr,[4] territory in lower present-day New York state and eastern New Jersey, and western Long Island
The Delaware nation was the first to sign a treaty with the new United States. They signed the treaty on the 17th September 1778. Despite the treaty, the Delaware were forced to cede their Eastern lands and moved first to Ohio, later Indiana(Plainfield), Missouri, Kansas, and Indian Territory. The ancestors of the Delaware Nation, following a different migration route, settled in Anadarko. Other Delaware bands moved north with the Iroquois after the American Revolutionary War to form two reserves in Ontario, Canada.[4]
Traditionally the Delaware were divided into the Munsee, Unami, and Unalachtigo, three social divisions determined by language and location... 

__________________

Among other things, Oliver wrote:

"I this day received heard from the deleware Nation of Lamanites by the man who is employed by government a smith for that Nation he believes the truth and says he tha[n]ks God he does believe and also says that he shall shortly be baptized which I pray God may be the case for truly my brethren he is a man he also says that we have put more into the lamenites during the short time we we were permited to be with them (which was but a few days[)] then all the devels in the infernal pit and and and all the men on earth can get out of them in four generations he tells me that, that evry Nation have now the name of Nephy who is the son of Nephi & handed down to this very generation, there is only a part of that Nation here now but the remainder are expected this spring the principle chief says he believes evry word of the Book & there are many <more> in the Nation who believe and we understand there are many among the Shawnees who also believe & we trust that when the Lord shall open the <our> way we shall have glorious times for truly my brethren my heart sorrows for them for they are cast out & dispised and know not the God in whom they should trust we have traveld about in this country considerable and proclaimed repentence and very <many> are very anxious serious & honest."

You can see the entire letter here:

http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/letter-from-oliver-cowdery-8-april-1831/1


Friday, July 14, 2017

The official position of the Church - part 2

FairMormon is a group that does a lot of good by answering questions and assembling references and resources. But their editorial position is full-fledged Mesomania, and they employ clever techniques to promote their two-Cumorahs and Mesoamerican theories.

Which is why I can't recommend FairMormon to anyone who has questions.

They also tend to make authoritative statements on behalf of the Church while they omit inconvenient sources and use sophistry to mislead readers, at least in my opinion. I've told them about my concerns but they've completely ignored them.

Here's an example from their web page: "the Church has no official geography. No revelatory basis exists for any geographical scheme outside of the Book of Mormon text itself."

That's quite a statement to make about the D&C and Oliver's historical letters, many of which describe heavenly visitations but, according to FairMormon, are not "revelatory."

This FairMormon web page establishes the FairMormon/Mesomaniac position that an anonymous fax, plagiarized from an article in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, overturns the explicit statements of Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, all of their contemporaries, and other modern prophets and apostles who have spoken on the issue of one Cumorah in New York, including in General Conference.

See what you think after you go through this analysis.

I'm going to post their page below with my comments in red.
________________________________________

https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Question:_Did_the_First_Presidency_identify_the_New_York_%22Hill_Cumorah%22_as_the_site_of_the_Nephite_final_battles%3F

Question: Did the First Presidency identify the New York "Hill Cumorah" as the site of the Nephite final battles? Of course, the answer is unequivocally yes. Joseph was President of the Church and Oliver was Assistant President at the time they wrote and published Letter VII. But FairMormon won't tell you that. Instead, they focus on an obscure letter written in modern times, as you're about to see. 

The First Presidency's secretary apparently answered a question according to his own understanding - No revelatory basis exists for this position. Notice how FairMormon characterizes Letter VII as not "revelatory" without informing readers that the letter even exists, let alone that Joseph and Oliver wrote it, that Joseph made sure every member of the Church in his day had access to it, that all of his contemporaries accepted it, and that no Church leader has contradicted it since. 

The First Presidency's secretary apparently answered a question according to his own understanding, [consistent with Letter VII and multiple talks in General Conference] and then at the direction of the First Presidency later clarified/corrected his statement to indicate that while many Latter-day Saints have expressed opinions about the location of Cumorah (or other Book of Mormongeography issues), the Church has no official geography. No revelatory basis exists for any geographical scheme outside of the Book of Mormon text itself. [Emphasis mine. Remember this when we see what members of the First Presidency have actually said about Cumorah.] 

A letter from the Secretary to the First Presidency said that "that the Hill Cumorah in western New York state is the same as referenced in the Book of Mormon"

In 1990, F. Michael Watson (secretary to the First Presidency) sent a letter to a questioner which read as follows:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Office of the First Presidency
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150
October 16, 1990
Bishop Darrel L. Brooks
Moore Ward
Oklahoma City Oklahoma South Stake
1000 Windemere
Moore, OK 73160
Dear Bishop Brooks:
I have been asked to forward to you for acknowledgment and handling the enclosed copy of a letter to President Gordon B. Hinckley from Ronnie Sparks of your ward. Brother Sparks inquired about the location of the Hill Cumorah mentioned in the Book of Mormon, where the last battle between the Nephites and Lamanites took place.
The Church has long maintained, as attested to by references in the writings of General Authorities, [emphasis mine, because this includes Letter VII and the writings of all of Joseph's contemporaries and every modern prophet and apostle since who has formally addressed the question] that the Hill Cumorah in western New York state is the same as referenced in the Book of Mormon.
The Brethren appreciate your assistance in responding to this inquiry, and asked that you convey to Brother Sparks their commendation for his gospel study.
Sincerely yours,
(signed)
F. Michael Watson
Secretary to the First Presidency
[This letter is clear and factual. Among the General Authorities who have written and spoken about this are Oliver Cowdery (with the assistance and approval of Joseph Smith), all of their contemporaries, including Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, and others, Joseph Fielding Smith, Anthony W. Ivins, Marion G. Romney, and Mark E. Peterson. At the same time, no modern prophet or apostle has ever said Cumorah is anywhere else.]

Letter from F. Michael Watson sent 16 October 1990.

Two statements [they're really one statement, as you'll see] made available within the next three years clarified the Church's opinion on the matter

It is apparent that Bro. Watson seems to have been speaking on his own understanding of the matter, and not as an official declaration of Church policy. [Because he referred to the writings of the Church leaders listed above, Bro. Watson was not speaking for himself. FairMormon takes the position that the statements of these prophets and apostles, including those made in General Conference, are not official Church policy because FairMormon believes on its own authority that Cumorah cannot be in New York. Why? Because FairMormon thinks Joseph and Oliver were ignorant speculators who misled the Church when they wrote and endorsed Letter VII.] 

Two statements made available within the next three years clarified the Church's opinion on the matter. The first was the publication of the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. Although not an official statement of Church policy, two members of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elders Oaks and Maxwell, served as advisers during the production of the Encyclopedia. [Look at the logic here. Elder Watson referred to specific statements made by Joseph and Oliver, as well as others made in General Conference, including by members of the First Presidency. According to FairMormon, none of those constitute official statements. However, a self-serving article that made its way into the Encyclopedia of Mormonism is supposed to reflect the official position of the Church. (Although FairMormon also says it is "not an official statement of Church policy," their claim that there is no official position on Cumorah is based on this article.) I say the article is self-serving because it was written by David Palmer, who wrote the book In Search of Cumorah that certainly reflects one form of official position--the official position of the Mesomaniacs. Does anyone think Elders Oaks and Maxwell realized they were conferring official policy status onto Palmer's book by allowing this article to be published in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism (assuming they even read it)?]   Thus, [this word carries a lot of weight here] we have the following statement published in 1992:
In 1928 the Church purchased the western New York hill and in 1935 erected a monument recognizing the visit of the angel Moroni (see Angel Moroni Statue). A visitors center was later built at the base of the hill. Each summer since 1937, the Church has staged the Cumorah Pageant at this site. Entitled America's Witness for Christ, it depicts important events from Book of Mormon history. This annual pageant has reinforced the common assumption that Moroni buried the plates of Mormon in the same hill where his father had buried the other plates,
[The rhetoric here is clever. First, as I've mentioned, the entry in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism was written by David Palmer, who cites his own book as authority (FairMormon omits the citation at the end of the article, of course, possibly because they're starting to realize how ridiculous the citation cartel is, and this entry on Cumorah is one of the most blatant examples of that.) Nowhere in Palmer's article does he even mention Letter VII, despite it's being the most explicit and unambiguous statement about Cumorah in Church history. (In his book, he alludes to Letter VII IN A FOOTNOTE, without quoting it, and citing only the Messenger and Advocate as if Letter VII was an obscure oddity. He doesn't tell readers that Joseph helped write the letter and explicitly endorsed it at least three times.) Instead, in his article Palmer writes that the pageant has "reinforced the common assumption that Moroni buried the plates in the same hill where his father had buried the other plates." Palmer, FairMormon, and all the Mesomaniacs want people to believe that Letter VII, which declared the New York Cumorah to be a fact, written by the Assistant President of the Church with the full approval of Joseph Smith, is nothing more that an expression of a "common assumption" that was wrong. This is how these Mesomaniacs are teaching that Joseph and Oliver were ignorant speculators who misled the Church about Cumorah being in New York.]
thus equating this New York hill with the Book of Mormon Cumorah. Because the New York site does not readily fit the Book of Mormon description of Book of Mormon geography, 
[This statement is based on Palmer's imaginary list of requirements, set forth in his book and designed to fit Mesoamerica, that include the necessity for volcanoes that never even appear in the Book of Mormon. His requirements also include this: "the hill must be large enough to provide a view of hundreds of thousands of bodies." This is the same claim made by anti-Mormon critics, of course. But the text--and Letter VII itself--explain there were only "thousands" of Jaredites and "tens of thousands" of Nephites/Lamanites killed at Cumorah. Not "hundreds of thousands" (or millions). 

FairMormon wants you to believe that the Brethren take the official position that the Hill Cumorah in New York (labeled as "the New York site") cannot possibly be what Joseph and Oliver said it was. It's yet another way of telling the world that Joseph and Oliver were ignorant speculators who misled the Church. And yet, when you go through the actual text and compare it to the archaeology, anthropology, geology and geography, the New York Cumorah fits nicely.]
some Latter-day Saints have looked for other possible explanations and locations, including Mesoamerica. [Notice how only one alternative is even mentioned, and no surprise, it's Mesoamerica. This is how the Mesomaniacs have managed to infiltrate the Church, by suppressing information (Letter VII) and censoring any alternatives to their own theories.] Although some have identified possible sites that may seem to fit better (Palmer), [there's his self-serving citation to himself that FairMormon wants you to believe Elders Oaks and Maxwell specifically approved] there are no conclusive connections between the Book of Mormon text and any specific site that has been suggested.
—David A. Palmer, "Cumorah" in Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism.

The Secretary to the First Presidency later clarified his earlier statement: "there are no conclusive connections between the Book of Mormon text and any specific site"

On April 23, 1993, F. Michael Watson arranged for a clarification letter after a discussion with a FARMS staffer. The text is similar and consistent with [a nice euphemism; It was actually plagiarized from the article by just reordering some sentences] what was published in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism the previous year:
The Church emphasizes the doctrinal and historical value of the Book of Mormon, not its geography. While some Latter-day Saints have looked for possible locations and explanations [for Book of Mormon geography] because the New York Hill Cumorah does not readily fit the Book of Mormon description of Cumorah, there are no conclusive connections between the Book of Mormon text and any specific site.[1]
Since the text of this letter was published in the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, some critics have charged the FARMS authors with either manipulating the Church into sending the letter, or forging the letter text altogether. [Notice they never provide a copy of this letter. Maybe one exists. If so, plenty of people would like to see it. It's exceptionally strange that the author of an article would claim to quote a letter that he does not possess and cannot explain who does possess it. Meanwhile, the actual letter from Elder Watson that started all of this does exist, as they show in this web page.]
Matt Roper of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship located a faxed copy of the same [how do we know it's the "same" if we don't have the original letter? Remember, this fax is plagiarized from Palmer's EOM article] statement sent from the Office of the First Presidency, along with its cover page, and sent FAIR a copy with permission to post it. The 1993 fax was sent by Senior Executive Secretary for the Office of the First Presidency, Carla Ogden, to Brent Hall of FARMS. (Sister Ogden continues to serve in this position as of 2009). The text of the fax matches exactly the text reported to have been in the response by Watson as described in the FARMS Review. The cover letter reads as follows:
I thought you would be interested in this FAX from Michael Watson, secretary to the First Presidency. [Except Elder Watson's name appears nowhere on the fax.] We have been receiving a number of questions from the Oklahoma, Texas area where anti-Mormons [This is exactly the problem. Anti-Mormons frequently point out that our own LDS scholars claim Joseph and Oliver were ignorant speculators who misled the Church. That is why it is critical that this issue be resolved, and I think it should be resolved by reaffirming what Joseph and Oliver said from the beginning.] are using a letter from Brother Watson to a Bishop where Brother Watson said that the Church supports only one location for Cumorah, and that is the New York location. [I've looked but have been unable to find a single instance of a Church leader repudiating Letter VII. Instead, I've only found multiple confirmations of what Joseph and Oliver said.] I talked with him on the phone the other day and told him of the questions that were coming to us. He responded that the First Presidency would like to clear up that Issue and he would FAX me with that clarification. [Maybe this is an accurate statement of what happened, but people often hear what they want to hear.]

Thanks 

[signed] Brent [Hall]
[The fax says nothing about Elder Watson. At any rate, it is nothing more than a plagiarized excerpt from the Palmer article in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. FairMormon wants us to believe that this essentially anonymous, plagiarized fax constitutes official Church policy that overrules every statement by the modern prophets and apostles, starting with Joseph and Oliver, including those made in General Conference by members of the First Presidency. If you want to believe this is how the Church reveals official policy, feel free to do so. I'm, shall we say, skeptical.] 

Fax from the Office of the First Presidency to FARMS dated April 23, 1993.
(Phone and numbers have been redacted from these scans; they are otherwise unaltered. The top of the First Presidency's fax had "Apr 23 '93 12:25 PM FIRST PRESIDENCY SLC P.1" in fainter letters applied by the receiving fax, which does not appear on the scan.)

Notes

  1. Jump up Correspondence from Michael Watson, Office of the First Presidency, 23 April 1993. Cited with commentary in William J. Hamblin, "Basic Methodological Problems with the Anti-Mormon Approach to the Geography and Archaeology of the Book of Mormon," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/1 (1993): 161–197. wiki off-site GL direct link

Thursday, July 13, 2017

"Ignorant of the relevant literature."

Since I turned off comments on most of the blogs, I miss the pundits, but it's too much hassle to deal with all the spam. People send email instead, to which I respond when I have time.

Recently I heard a new complaint. Some Mesoamerican supporter claims that I'm "ignorant of the relevant literature."

I wonder how widespread that belief is. Obviously, it's a form of cognitive dissonance; i.e., the person believes that I must not be familiar with the "relevant literature" because I don't agree with his/her views on the topic. IOW, I would be convinced by the "relevant literature" because he/she is convinced by it.

That's a classic logical fallacy, but it's not uncommon. It's similar to the way missionaries can't understand how anyone could read the Book of Mormon and not be convinced. Or how my Muslim friends can't understand how people can read the Koran and not become Muslim. Or how Democrats can't understand Republicans and vice versa.

These differences are not due solely to ignorance of what the other side deems "relevant literature," although certainly, that may be an important cause for disagreement.

But it's not the issue with respect to Book of Mormon geography.

Anyone who thinks I'm "ignorant of the relevant literature" should let me know, specifically, what he/she thinks I have not read.
_____________________

The first question is, what is "relevant?" 

I have been frankly astonished in the last two years at how ignorant Mesoamerican proponents are of a simple document in Church history: Oliver Cowdery's Letter VII. Joseph Smith helped write it, had it copied into his personal history, and had it republished so every member of the Church in his day could read and understand it. Letter VII unequivocally declares, specifically as a fact, that the final battles of the Nephites and Jaredites took place in the mile-wide valley west of the Hill Cumorah in New York and that Mormon's records repository was located there.

Letter VII is the most clear and authoritative statement we have about Book of Mormon geography. It was accepted by all of Joseph's contemporaries and its teachings have been repeated multiple times in General Conference, including by members of the First Presidency.

Yet today, if you ask a Mesoamerican supporter about Letter VII, you'll get a blank stare. Actually, you'll get a blank stare if you ask most Church members, but the Mesoamerican supporters hold themselves out to be better informed and more sophisticated, so their ignorance of Letter VII is inexcusable.

Except, it's not really inexcusable from the Mesomania perspective.

It's intentional.

For a Mesoamerican supporter, Letter VII is not relevant. That's why you'll never find it in their literature.

Why?

Because it obliterates both the "two-Cumorahs" and the "limited geography Mesoamerican" theories.

Mesomania scholars and educators say Letter VII is not relevant because Joseph and Oliver were ignorant speculators who misled the Church by adopting a false tradition that Cumorah (the Cumorah of Mormon 6:6) was in New York.

Just like that, they explain it away.

Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

Actually, the Mesomania scholars and educators are doing everything possible to cast doubt on Letter VII. I've addressed seven of their arguments on another blog, here: http://www.lettervii.com/2017/01/why-some-people-reject-letter-vii.html

I invite anyone interested in the topic to read Letter VII in its historical context, along with the corroborating statements by every prophet and apostle who has commented on Cumorah, and then decide whether you want to accept the New York Cumorah or accept the Mesomania dogma that Joseph and Oliver were ignorant speculators who misled the Church.
_________________

Some people don't believe that LDS scholars and educators have suppressed Letter VII. I'd be very interested in any publication or presentation by a Mesoamerican proponent that quotes from Letter VII and analyzes it any differently from the standard claim that Joseph and Oliver were ignorant speculators who misled the Church.

There is really no alternative for the Mesoamerican proponents. That's why I adapted a Dilbert cartoon that summarizes the psychology involved:

Mesomania scholars and educators encounter Letter VII
One good example is the seminal book, In Search of Cumorah by David A. Palmer, which is frequently cited by the citation cartel. Even though his book purports to be about Cumorah, he doesn't even mention Letter VII by name, let alone quote it for readers (although he does put it in a footnote as part of his claim that Oliver Cowdery first labeled the hill as Cumorah in 1835). Palmer also wrote the "Cumorah" entry in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, which, of course, also censors Letter VII. It was this article that was plagiarized for an alleged fax from the "office of the First Presidency" that is often cited by Mesoamerican proponents.

Think about this for a moment. Because of Mesomania, the article on "Cumorah" in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism does not even mention that Oliver Cowdery, while Assistant President of the Church, stated it was a fact that the final battles of the Nephites and Jaredites took place in the valley west of the Hill Cumorah in New York, and that Mormon's repository (Mormon 6:6) was in that same hill. The article doesn't mention that Oliver himself had visited that repository multiple times, according to Brigham Young and others. This is raw censorship, made worse by the promotion instead of the author's own theories and his own book.

Although Letter VII was republished in the Messenger and Advocate, the Gospel Reflector, the Times and Seasons, the Millennial Star, and the Improvement Era, it has never been published in the Ensign. Instead, the Ensign has published plenty of Mesoamerican-promoting articles, demonstrating the editorial posture of that magazine.

If not for the Joseph Smith Papers, which had to publish Letter VII only because Joseph had it copied into his personal history, Letter VII would not be available to most members of the Church today. Even then, it's fairly obscure unless you know what you're looking for.

Think of this. Most members of the Church might think reading the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, the Ensign, and the Church manuals would give them a solid background in Church history. But Letter VII has been completely censored from these publications.

It can't be overemphasized that Joseph thought this was important enough to have it republished multiple times so everyone would be familiar with it.

Now, no one knows about it.

Outside of the LDS scholars and educators who know about Letter VII but suppress it, the only Church members who know about Letter VII are those who have read my blogs or my little book or some of the other materials by supporters of the North American geography.

Another good example of censorship is Mark Allen Wright's otherwise excellent article, published in the Interpreter and elsewhere, titled "Heartland as Hinterland: The Mesoamerican Core and North American Periphery of Book of Mormon Geography." He writes, "The best available evidence for the Book of Mormon continues to support a limited Mesoamerican model.... I introduce the Hinterland Hypothesis and argue that it can harmonize the Mesoamerican evidence for the Book of Mormon with Joseph Smith’s statements concerning Nephite and Lamanite material culture in North America." He discusses Zelph and the plains of the Nephites, and while I think his approach is ineffective for several reasons, at least he addresses these issues.

Of course, he never once mentions Letter VII.
_____________________

From the Mesoamerican perspective, Letter VII and other material that support the North American setting for the Book of Mormon are ignored because they are deemed "not relevant." That's why Book of Mormon Central, which raised a lot of money on the initial premise that they would be a central repository for all Book of Mormon related research, instead refuses to include anything that does not promote their Mesoamerican ideology.

Actually, they have to do this; their corporate owner, BMAF, has the primary goal "to increase understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient Mesoamerican codex."  Obviously, Letter VII would undermine that corporate goal.

To its credit, Book of Mormon Central did upload an early first edition of my little book on Letter VII, which I gave them royalty-free to distribute. But then they uploaded attack articles without giving me a chance to respond, which is exactly how the entire citation cartel has operated for years.

When a Mesoamerican supporter claims I am "ignorant of the relevant literature," the term "relevant" always refers to "the literature that supports the Mesoamerican theory."

Anything that contradicts their theories is not considered relevant.

The Mesomania approach would be laughable if only this ideology hadn't become the "consensus" among LDS scholars and educators.
_______________________

The second question is, what "relevant literature" have I read?

In my college classes, I tell students not to plagiarize because I've read the entire Internet and I will recognize anything they copy. It's a joke, of course, but in the context of Book of Mormon geography, I've been reading, studying, listening and attending for decades.

I was raised with the Arnold Friberg paintings, the old CES materials about Ancient America that focused on Central and South America, etc. I still have my old Book of Mormon (pre-1981) that contains not just the photos of the real Cumorah in New York, but photos of artifacts and locations in Central and South America. We used to watch Ancient America Speaks, which you can see on youtube now in English and Spanish.

At BYU, I took a class from Ray Matheny, who appears in the film, as well as John Sorenson and others. Everyone I knew accepted the Mesoamerican theory, especially after the Ensign published Sorenson's articles in 1984.

Until FARMS was dissolved, I used to read all the FARMS newsletters and publications. I have most if not all of the issues of BYU Studies for the last couple of decades, and I subscribe to the digital version. I've read the Interpreter, Meridian Magazine, BMAF, FairMormon, Book of Mormon Central, and many of the related blogs. That's how I came to realize it's all a big citation cartel; i.e., the same people quoting one another (and themselves) over and over.

I've read all of Sorenson's books and articles that I'm aware of. Same with the writings of other Mesomania supporters. Same with detractors, who have made some good points, such as the CES Letter and Earl Wunderli's An Imperfect Book that focus on what I consider the false tradition of Mesomania (as do most critics, including former, non- and anti-Mormon authors).

Early on, I commented on specific articles, but people got offended. I'm not trying to offend anyone. I just want people to consider all the evidence, not just the evidence that Mesomania scholars and educators deem "relevant." I made my points, so I haven't done these reviews for a while.

Not that there is a lack of material.

I've signed a "comity" agreement which provided that I not name specific individuals, and I don't want to implicate or offend anyone. (Sorenson didn't sign it, and anyway it's difficult to discuss the issue without mentioning him. And I acknowledged his positive influence in Moroni's America.)

A few of the books I used in writing The Lost City of Zarahemla

Let's just say that any book or article that promotes the Mesoamerican theory and has been cited by the citation cartel is probably in my library, physical or digital, but if not, I've read it on loan or online.

Let me repeat: If anyone can think of one they don't think I've read, let me know. Maybe I have overlooked one, and if so, I'd like to know about it.

I have Mesoamerican books that I've annotated quite extensively but have never published my comments because we're all trying to get along and I signed the comity agreement.

Besides, I don't think beating a dead horse tapir makes sense.
____________________

I'll finish this post by recognizing the same logical fallacy that I addressed above; i.e., I don't expect everyone who reads Letter VII to be convinced that Cumorah is in New York.

Plenty of people have read Letter VII and still think Joseph and Oliver were ignorant speculators who misled the Church.

If that's your opinion, that's fine with me.

But don't assume you know everything just because you've been indoctrinated your entire life by Mesomania and then reached out to read a few passages from Letter VII, accompanied by all the anti-Letter VII material published by the citation cartel.

I think the vast majority of LDS people will accept Letter VII when they read it, especially when they read it in context. It's even more persuasive when we study the relevant archaeology, anthropology, geology, geography, etc.

And as always, I welcome your input.